Peru's President Ollanta Humala on Dec. 9 announced the capture of the new commander of the remnant Sendero Luminoso column in the Upper Huallaga Valley -- one of two remaining pockets of coca-producing jungle where the scattered Maoist guerilla movement is still keeping alive a local insurgency. The commander was named as Alexander Fabián Huamán AKA "Héctor" -- said to have assumed leadership of the guerillas' "Huallaga Regional Committee" after the capture last year of "Comrade Artemio," the last "historic" Sendero leader (that is, dating back to the insurgency's heyday 20 years ago). Gen. Víctor Romero Fernández, commander of the National Police Anti-Drug Directorate (DIRANDRO), called the arrest a "hard blow" against the guerillas, and predicted that "Sendero Luminoso is disappearing in this zone."
Meanwhile, Lima upped the ante in the mutual sniping between Peru and Bolivia, with each accusing the other of sponsoring narco-terrorism on its territory. On Dec. 7, Peru's ambassador in La Paz, Silvia Alfaro, issued a public statement calling on the Bolivian press to refrain from implicating his country in the drug trade. In witheringly sarcastic terms, he called on Bolivian newspapers to "first corroborate the information and then to spread it, and not vice versa." The mutual recriminations were set off by paranoia about a Sendero Luminoso presence in Bolivia after a Bolivian National Police patrol was ambushed in the Yungas coca-growing zone in October.